Soybean oil could make for longer-lasting, greener tires
Goodyear has determined that soybean oil used in tire production could reduce the amount of petroleum-based oil needed, and increase tread longevity (Photo via Shutterstock)
It’s good for the environment when manufacturers can find ways of using less fossil fuels, while consumers – along with the environment – benefit when products last longer. Now, thanks to the humble soybean, both parties may be able to get what they need. Researchers from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company have discovered that soybean oil can help reduce the amount of petroleum used in tires, while also extending those tires’ tread life.
Specifically, it was determined that by using soybean oil in the tire rubber compound, the company could reduce its use of petroleum-based oil by up to seven million gallons (26.5 million liters) a year, while the tread life of the tires would increase by approximately ten percent.
Additionally, tests showed that the soybean rubber compound blended more easily with the silica used in tire production. This means that tire plants using it could operate more efficiently, using less power and creating less greenhouse gases – they would also cost the company less to run.
Prototype tires made with the soybean oil will be tested in Texas over the next few months. If all goes well, the tires could be available for purchase by 2015.
Goodyear is also developing a sugar-based compound known as BioIsoprene, which could replace some of the petroleum-based isoprene currently used in tires.
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
Awesome.... Fingers crossed.. :D
Great! It's bad enough that rodents have totalled cars by munching on soy-based wiring insulation - now they'll be eating more easily accessible car tires. This is a significant safety hazard and puts manufacturers in a very precarious legal situation when someone gets killed due to tire failure resulting from Bugs Bunny having had his soy buffet.
Who told you that replacing the wiring harness costs enough to total a car?
If rats can eat tires then one of our greatest pollution worries is over, disposal of old tires. If worried about rats eating your car tires then buy a cat.
I am glad that there is a use for soybean oil. As a food source , it is crap.
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